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Ever doubted what exactly Web Security is? You will wonder no more after we at HTH.guide provide you with a straightforward explanation and provide you with the main focus points of this IT sphere.
Web Security is also known as Web Application Security, WebAppSec, for short. Sometimes the term is even referred to as cybersecurity or Information Technology security.
Cybersecurity encompasses the safeguard of computers and networks from theft or damage to related hardware, software, or electronic data and any disruption or misdirection of associated services. Cybersecurity, a.k.a. CyberSec, is the broader term, and Web security is actually one of its branches.
Web security focuses mainly on the safety of websites, web services, and applications, while it applies principles taken from application security to Internet and web-based systems at a higher level.
In case you have heard the term Network Security and you are confused about it, we will explain that. That particular CyberSec branch has the goal to protect any data that is being sent through devices in your network to make sure that the information is not modified or intercepted in any way.
2022 Onwards: Threat Landscape
Post-Covid new technologies and way of working with networks bring the possibilities of new threats and malware targets shift accordingly. You should definitely read the following new and upcoming possible threats in 2022 and going forward.
5G and IoT Networks Vulnerabilities
The advent and growth of the 5G network, a new era of connectivity is becoming a reality with the help of the Internet of Things (IoT). Inter-communication between multiple devices also exposes them to vulnerabilities from outside influence, attacks or unknown software bugs.
The 5G architecture is comparatively new in the IT industry and requires a lot of research to find how to cover the security issues ahead. Developmental steps of the 5G network might bring new network attacks potential that we might not be aware of and hence, have no direct security against.
Government-Sponsored Cyber Warfare
The West and the East power fronts never cease their attempts to superiority. Tensions between the US and Iran or Chinese hackers frequently is the subject of worldwide news although the attacks are few; they have a significant impact on events such as elections, etc. Political and industrial secrets will be targets for cyber security attacks and High-profile data breaches are trending in 2022.
Cloud Application Security Attacks
More organizations are now established on clouds, with security measures not continuously monitored and updated to safeguard the data from leaks. Malicious software and phishing attacks are main attack vectors on the Cloud and even top tier applications from Google and Microsoft still need additional protection from outside attacks.
Cloud-Native Application Protection Platforms (CNAPPs) combines the security of these solutions:
- Cloud Service Network Security (CSNS)
- Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)
- Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP)
The above cloud security capabilities are integrated into the single cloud-native solution labeled as CNAPPs which spans the entire application lifecycle and can be easily used across entire cloud architecture for seamless management of security.
Developer-First Security Risks
Vulnerabilities in production applications are a major issue with the amount of newly discovered vulnerabilities growing this year.
The main reason is that security is historically neglected in the development process. The focus is on creating a functional application and meeting release deadlines, which in turn pushes security back. Security is often addressed for the first time in the testing phase of the software development lifecycle (SDLC) if at all.
Vulnerable software has numerous impacts on its users and the manufacturer. Adding security requirements to the planning process and integrating vulnerability scanning and other solutions into automated CI/CD pipelines is necessary in 2022. That way, organizations can reduce the cost of security vulnerabilities without largely impacting development processes and release dates.
How to Protect Your Website?
Now that you have the definitions related to the securing of internet space, you are wondering how to secure your business and protect your website.
Here are some helpful tips that you should try to follow to enhance the security of your website.
Security plugins are useful since there are plenty of free ones and are usually easy to install on a website. Here are some of the top choices available for the most popular CMS platforms.
Plugins for the WordPress platform:
- Bulletproof Security
Options for the Magento platform:
Extensions for the Joomla platform:
Plugins for the GRAV platform:
A software developer should help you with implementing security code to your website if you are not running any CMS.
You should get an SSL certificate enabled on your website to guard it against hackers and attacks trying to get financial data. You should force your website to use only HTTPS, so you know that the connection between your website and the server is always secure. In that way, you and your site’s visitors will be calm about sending credit card information, personal data, and contact details.
Having HTTPS makes search engines and people trust your brand and visit it more often, instead of avoiding it. You might have noticed that any modern browser informs you if a website is not in HTTPS, thus not secure and issue a warning sign. Not to mention that when trustworthiness is lost, you will have a hard time regaining it.
Update your Website Platform and Software
You might have heard of people saying frantically over and over the order UPDATE!. Well, you actually need to do it frequently. Updating your website platform and software keeps them away from known vulnerabilities and risks.
Make sure to have your content management system, plugins, apps, and any installed scripts updated. Hackers can gain access to your website and control it how they see fit if you do not run a tight and timely update schedule.
Require Stronger Passwords
You should require your users to use strong passwords with a high standard of 15 characters, despite the bare minimum being lower now. Hardware reaches technological advancements ever so faster, so in a few months, brute-forcing would be a bit easier if the latest hardware is used.
Keeping the above in mind, require 15 or more characters, at least one uppercase letter, at least one lowercase letter, and a symbol or a number. Passwords that use only numbers are hacked by brute-force instantly or in a matter of seconds in most cases – people should avoid using only numbers.
You should always use a hashing encryption algorithm for storing the generated passwords and randomly add text before the hashing (salting).
Plenty of hashing algorithms are out there, such as AES, PBKDF2 among others. Except using an algorithm to encrypt passwords, you should require proper authentication from your users. Make certain to use encryption for your most sensitive files like tax returns and financial records, too.
The Most Common Threats in WebAppSec
Types of threats related to WebAppSec are vulnerabilities and risks that are known for years. Below you will find a list with the most common ones plaguing the cyberspace from long ago.
Cross-site scripting (XSS)
SQL injection (SQi)
SQL injection is a type of web application risk that an attacker attempts to utilize application code to access or corrupt the contents of databases. Upon success, an attacker can create, read, update, modify, or even delete data stored in the back-end database. Such an attack can bypass every password and give attackers direct access to databases of a website.
Denial-of-service attack (DoS)
DoS and DDoS attacks are denial-of-service attacks, some of which are distributed. The aim is to overload a server and surrounding infrastructure to bring a website down. Another result could be for attackers to make websites perform so slowly that they cannot be used properly, as intended. Said malicious actions are achieved via a variety of attack vectors, to be able to send attack traffic in a relatively short time.
After a server is no longer able to efficiently relay incoming requests, it begins to work exceptionally slowly and eventually deny incoming requests of its service, regardless if traffic is malicious or coming from legitimate users. A properly configured web application firewall can prevent auto attacks, which typically target small or lesser-known web sites and help fight against DoS attacks.
A data breach is a more general vulnerability-related term. The release of confidential or sensitive data can occur through malicious methods or only by mistake. A reasonably broad scope exists for what is considered a data breach, consisting of only a few high-value records or thousands of exposed user accounts and passwords.
Code injection is a computer bug exploitation triggered by processing invalid data. An attacker uses code injection to implement new code into vulnerable computer software and change the course of execution. Successful injection can be disastrous, for instance, by allowing computer malware to propagate.
Code injection vulnerabilities happen after an application sends untrusted data to an interpreter. Injection flaws are most often found in:
- SQL, LDAP, XPath, or NoSQL queries
- Operating System commands
- XML parsers, SMTP headers, program arguments
Injecting server scripting code, such as ASP or PHP, can install malware or executing malevolent code on said server.
Web Security also protects visitors from the below-mentioned points:
- Stolen Data – like e-mail addresses, payment info, and other details
- Phishing – emails, landing pages, look-a-like websites made to trick users into providing sensitive data
- Session Hijacking – Attackers take over users’ sessions to compel users taking unwanted actions on a site
- Malicious Redirects – Visitors get redirected from visiting an intended site to a malicious one
- SEO Spam – Unusual links, pages, comments displayed on a site to distract visitors and give traffic to malicious sites
Not only the threats listed are the most common attacks you could find on a website, but sometimes can be damaging enough for the business, image, and brand. Nobody wants their website to be left unprotected from any of those risks.
Why Do You Need to Test Your Security?
Hosting providers usually aim to protect and guard your website’s server, but not the site itself. Not to mention that a single cyber-attack can be much costlier than years of maintaining good protection standards.
Think of it another way – you are not only securing your website, but also your brand and image in the public space. Have in mind that some malware and hacker attacks could be hard to detect and take time to fully eradicate problems caused by them.
Data theft and cyber threats are increasing rapidly every day and are growing in complexity. Thus, it is only proper for you to ensure that your web softwares and websites are secure. One missed vulnerability or bug or not patching them in time would often result in private information being leaked and misused or worse.
Check Your Website for Vulnerabilities
That is why it is of utmost importance to check your website for any vulnerable code or possible entrances hackers can use. If you decide using an automatic detection tool, select it carefully. You have to search for one that covers at least the top 10 common vulnerabilities listed by Open Web Application Security Project® (OWASP).
Thus, testers can focus their skills on business logic and data flow, requiring manual analysis. Various organizations use an internally built tool or a certified one for such testing.
You could also include manual tests specific to the application which are often overlooked by automatic ones. A manual test may be the following:
A tester identifies an admin-accessed URL, slightly different from what they see:
The tester alters the URL to try and act as an administrator:
Depending on the result, risk should be reported, and the tester should navigate to other such pages to see if this issue is present there.
Many tools send a few requests to the exact same page to determine if the responses differ. Most agencies state that there is a vulnerability found when HTTP 500 errors are returned. It is the duty of the tester to check out the request and related error message to determine if it is a genuine risk.
More Essential Tips by HTH.guide
If you made it this far, you probably want to learn more information on securing things on your end. Here are some essential tips that can help you get an even more hacker-free environment.
Have a Firewall and a Secure Web Gateway Active
A good measure for securing a website is to have a firewall active, responsible for monitoring incoming and outgoing web traffic.
Secure web gateways (proxies) separate the users from the Internet by analyzing traffic in and out of networks for malicious content and policy compliance. They emulate and terminate network traffic. Thus, they are a bit different than firewalls. If you need more safety, you can add both a proxy and a firewall to guard your site.
Do Not Store Credit Card Information
Some websites require storing credit card data for future transactions to be processed quicker. Never do that, and simply do not store credit card details.
Even if you have implemented strong passwords, require authentication, and strong password rules to be strictly met, a simple vulnerability could cause a data breach. It often happens, even in environments believed to be safe. To avoid any fiascos like that, just avoid storing such credentials.
Learn to Recognize Suspicious Activity
Hackers sometimes like to use accounts and devices as part of a botnet, steal your identity to defraud other people, etc. Some attacks are hard to identify and could take a long time to do so.
However, such activities leave a trail on the Internet, formed of suspicious messages and connections without authorization. Thus, it can many times be identified and negated to securing a website account.
Security methods are continually changing to match the newest types of vulnerabilities which come into existence. As you have by now realized, websites and web applications are prone to numerous security risks and vulnerabilities and must be secured holistically. Unless you want your website or application to get compromised, you should regularly ensure that you have up-to-date security implemented.
Web security is easy to install, and it aids business people to make their websites safe and secure, so there is no excuse for not implementing such safeguards.
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